State of the Industry
The Key to Success
Developing a Game Plan
Your No. 1 Sales Tool
Social Media Outposts
Your No. 1 Marketing Tool
Linda Fulkerson has nearly two decades of experience in small business
management and marketing. She is the former director of digital services for the
largest media group in central Texas and served five years as division training
manager during her 9-year stint in the United States Marine Corps.
Linda’s writing career began as a freelance magazine features writer. She later
moved into the exciting realm newspapers and has held the positions of copy-
editor, sports writer, online editor, and online advertising coordinator.
In 2013, Linda left her day-job and launched DLF Digital Services LLC. Her
company provides a variety of services, including a book marketing graphics
segment that creates cover designs and video book trailers. She is a sought-after
marketing consultant for authors, speakers, and small business owners, and
specializes in website development for authors and speakers.
Linda is the author of several nonfiction books, including two coloring books for
writers. She recently published her first mystery novel, DEAD BROKE.
State of the Industry
The good news & bad news about book marketing today.
IT WAS THE WORST
IT WAS THE BEST
The average U.S. nonfiction book is selling less than 250 copies per year
and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime. Most books today are selling
only to the authors’ and publishers’ communities, and most marketing is
done by authors, not publishers.
THE WORST OF TIMES
Average Title Sales are Small
Each Book Faces Stiff Competition
More New Product Introductions
Consumers are spending less time reading. Therefore, people are reading
only books that their communities make important. There is no general
audience for most nonfiction books. It’s more effective to connect with
one’s community than chase after the general public.
Even though each book must be acquired, developed, reworked (edited),
designed, produced, manufactured, packaged, price, introduced,
marketed, warehoused, and sold, no other industry has so many new
product introductions as book publishing.
Bowker reports over 3 million books were published in the U.S. in 2010.
That’s up from 215,777 in 2002. In addition, hundreds of thousands of
English-language books are published each year outside the U.S.
Number of Books Published has Exploded
Print Unit Book Sales are Declining
Overall Book Sales are Shrinking
Adult nonfiction book sales peaked in 2007 and have declined each year
since then, according to BookScan. Bookstore sales also peaked in 2007
and have fallen each year since then, according to the U.S. Census
Despite skyrocketing eBook sales, overall book sales are still falling. In
2011, eBook sales increased by 117.3%, yet the decline in print outpaced
the gains of digital sales, resulting in an overall 5.8% decline in book sales.
SOURCE: HUFFINGTON POST
Today, anyone with a computer can write and self-publish a book. Access
to the book market is no longer concentrated in the hands of big
publishing houses. This is great news for those who are passionate about
the message they wish to share with others.
THE BEST OF TIMES
The Playing Field has been Leveled
Think Outside the Bookstore
Use Your Book to Build Credibility
Be creative, resourceful, and go where the competition isn’t. You can also
build a cottage industry around your book(s), with spinoffs like videos
(eCourses), coffee mugs, T-shirts, calendars, and more.
The root word of authority is author. Writing and publishing a book
makes you an expert without having a Ph.D. Build your client base. Build
name recognition. Get speaking gigs. Sell other products. Touch people’s
lives. Make a difference.
In 2011, book publishing revenues reached $1,735.3 Billion, a decline of
2.5% from the previous year, but it is still a billion-dollar industry. “That
dough is going somewhere - some of it can go to you.” (author Dave
There is Money to be Made
The Industry is Full of Interesting People
Key to Achieving Publishing Success
The publishing industry - authors/agents/editors/publishers - are some of
the most interesting, fascinating, diverse people you could ever imagine.
(Adapted from a quote by publicist Leslie Rossman.)
“Achieving publishing success is 5% writing a good book and 95%
marketing . . . if you like to get out there and hustle, this is a fun way to
make a living.” (authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, Chicken
Soup for the Soul series)
SOURCE: HUFFINGTON POST
The Key to Success
Why do some authors sell so many books and others sell so few?
Most authors have multiple streams that comprise their total platform,
including a popular blog, newsletter, speaking engagements, radio/TV
shows, podcast, social media, and books.
ABOUT AUTHOR PLATFORMS
Elements of an author platform
The HUB of an author platform is a website
While it’s never “too late” to begin building an author platform, it’s best
done before you publish any books. Having your platform established
first enables you to sell more copies of your book quickly at the initial
launch, which increases your chances of attaining best-seller status in
your book’s category.
Your author website gives fans a one-stop place to learn about new book
releases and get to know you better. Think of your author platform like a
wagon wheel. Your website is the center, the hub, where everything
comes together. Everything else is a spoke, leading to your website.
Just as a physical platform (think: stage) enables a speaker to be visible to
his or her audience, an author platform enables writers to reach reach an
audience of book buyers.
What is an author platform?
Why do authors need a platform?
My personal publishing story
For traditional publishing - an author must prove to potential publishers
that his or her books will sell well, so a platform is necessary. A platform is
even more essential for indie author/publishers, as without it, you can’t
I wrote my first book back in 2002, and after attempting to sell it for
nearly a year, my then-agent told me to first get famous and then pitch
the book again. That was when I began building an author platform.
Statistically, a website’s About page receives more traffic than any other
page on the site, with the exception of the Home page. While your blog
and brand is about the customer/reader, your About page allows you to
share about you.
MUST-HAVES FOR AN AUTHOR WEBSITE
An “About” Page
Showcase your books within your author website and include links to
their sales pages at Amazon.com or wherever they are sold. Also, feature
any other products and/or services you may offer on your website.
One of the federal laws governing commercial websites is the
requirement that consumers be able to contact you. You can easily fulfill
this through a Contact page on your site. It’s also a good idea to include a
downloadable media kit on your author website.
Your author website is the most important piece of Internet real estate in
your platform-building strategy. You want to make sure you have
complete control of your website. Platform- building experts, such as
Michael Hyatt, recommend using a self-hosted WordPress site.
Branding can be described as “influencing a memorable response in your
target market” and is vital to successful marketing. Branding is not about
you or your books - it’s about your audience. Your author website should
reflect your brand.
A blog helps you develop your author platform and reinforce your brand.
It helps position you as an authority in your niche. And, it is hands-down,
your best and most cost-effective marketing tool. More about blogs in a
Few things are more frustrating than to have a website you’ve worked
hard to develop crash or get hacked. Security and backups can be easily
managed by using a few excellent WordPress plugins.
MUST-HAVES FOR AN AUTHOR WEBSITE
As of 2010, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires all commercial
websites to be mobile friendly. Google’s algorithm also benefits websites
that are mobile responsive. Besides that, over 60 percent of online
queries originate from a mobile device, so being mobile friendly benefits
In addition to mobile responsiveness and a Contact page, commercial
Your website’s testimonial/review page gives potential readers and/or
customers (if you offer services in addition to books) an easy pace to
browse through statements from others who have read your writing or
used your products/services.
While your blog is your number one marketing tool, your lead-capture
system is your number one sales tool. We’ll talk more about that in a few
People will only visit your website if they can find it. Optimizing for search
engines is one of the best ways to draw traffic to your website. There are
two types of SEO - on page and offsite.
Your No. 1 Marketing Tool
An author blog is a must for effective book marketing.
The most successful blogs focus on a specific topic. The topic should be
broad enough to allow for sustained post publishing, but narrow enough
to draw your target audience.
MARKETING WITH A BLOG
Give Your Blog a Purpose
What to Blog About
Types of Content
The 20/20 method works well for nonfiction authors. List 20 of your
readers’ biggest dreams and 20 of your readers’ greatest dreads. Use that
list as a base for developing blog posts. For fiction, choose a relevant
theme or setting. You can also introduce characters, talk about research
trips, etc. Build interest in future books through your blog posts.
Blog content can (and should be varied). Include images, video, text, audio,
links to relevant content from other bloggers, interviews, lists, how-to
posts, Q&A, etc. Each post should focus on one idea.
To reach the right person with the right message at the right time. At one
time, traditional marketing (advertising, really) was all that was available.
Today, online marketing has leveled the playing field, enabling indie
publishers/authorpreneurs to compete with the big publishing houses.
The Goal of Marketing
Benefits of Blogging
Tips for Blogging Success
Positions you as an expert, enables dialog with your audience,
inexpensive, easy to manage, ranks well in search engines, flexible,
reinforces your brand, expands your reach and enables you to build your
author platform and your email list.
Embed it in your website. Use WordPress. Structure it to attract traffic,
using both pages and posts. Optimize it for search. Provide value to your
readers. Create compelling content. Capture leads. Choose a blog
publishing schedule, whether daily, weekly, or somewhere in between. Be
consistent, and always post regularly on your selected day(s).
Your No. 1 Sales Tool
Email marketing is the secret weapon best-selling authors use to boost
book sales quickly.
Nurture your list members by continuing to send them useful, relevant
content periodically - perhaps 5-7 times per month. You can send a
monthly newsletter only, if you wish, but you don’t want your list
members to forget who you are or that they’ve signed up for your list.
People are busy. Keep your emails to your list very brief, less than 250
words. Otherwise, subscribers may tire of your content and unsubscribe.
BUILDING AN EMAIL LIST
Continue to Provide Useful Content
Make Periodic Pitches
Keep It Legal
Every 7-10 emails should include a pitch for your books, products, and/or
services. If you continue to provide useful content to your list, they won’t
be upset with receiving an occasional sales pitch.
Be sure to use a reputable email delivery service and only send to those
who have opted in to receive your emails, so you will be in compliance
with federal laws governing email marketing.
Create a useful, relevant free offer to use as a giveaway to bribe readers
into joining your list. Ideas: eBook, Video, Audio File, Coupon, eCourse,
Product Previews (such as free chapter of a book), Interview with a
relevant person, checklists, action guides, etc. Brainstorm other ideas.
Create an Incentive Product
Add a Web Form
Write Your First Five Emails
Add a lead capture web form to all of your site’s landing pages and in your
site’s sidebar. Use your autoresponder service to get the web form’s
code. Set up your free offer to deliver automatically when someone joins
Create a welcome message, which should be delivered immediately with a
download link to your free offer. Follow up with your Know-Like-Trust
Social Media Outlets
How to use social media to grow relationships and build your author platform
Set aside a few minutes (at least twice per day, if possible) to answer
comments and interact with those who have responded to your posts.
Thank those who share, retweet, etc., your content. Ask readers to share,
like, and comment.
USING SOCIAL MEDIA
Interact in Person
Create Engaging Content
Point the Way to Your Website
Ask relevant, open-ended questions that your audience will find
interesting. Search for “conversation starters” to get ideas and adapt
what you find to fit your genre and target audience. Video and images are
always popular. Create a hashtag that reflects your brand and use it on
your social media posts.
Encourage social connections to visit your website. Always have
something better for them there, such as the rest of the story, content
upgrades, free downloads, etc.
Include branded graphics that match your website and keywords that are
relevant to your brand. Complete all aspects of your profile on the social
media sites you wish to participate on. The most popular sites are
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, and
Complete Your Profiles
Go Where Your Audience Is
Use an Auto-Scheduling Service
It’s challenging to be on all the social profiles at once, but it can be done.
The best thing to do is start small and make sure you’re on the social sites
where your potential readers hang out. You can always add more sites
later after you master the ins and outs of each one.
Readers can sniff automation pretty quickly, so you don’t want to
automate everything. However, services such as Buffer and HootSuite
enable you to write and schedule social posts in advance. Try not to
publish the exact same post on every social site.
Developing a Game Plan
Putting it all together to create an effective author platform and marketing
Use optimized content to draw readers to your website/blog and use
social media, in-person events, podcasts, word-of-mouth, networking
with other authors, and other methods to continue to grow your
platform. Be sure to include a page near the back of your book to invite
readers to join your email list and receive whatever you’re offering as an
YOUR MARKETING GAME PLAN
Grow Your Community
Use Additional Platform-Building Ideas
Sell Your Books!
Sponsor events, Attend festivals/trade shows, Network at conferences,
Host webinars, Submit press releases for book releases and other events,
Give interviews, Talk to civic clubs, Advertising
Don’t be shy when it’s time to sell your books, products or services. Your
community now knows you, likes you, and trusts you. You’ve built interest
in your book and/or your book’s topic through your blog. When your book
is about to release, be sure to ask for the sale. Announce your book
release via social media (try a Facebook launch party), your blog, your
email list, organize a blog tour.
Include the previously mentioned must-haves, and begin blogging.
Construct Your Author Website
Build a responsive email list
Create Compelling Content
Remember, List-Building is the most important thing you can do to
increase and sustain book sales. Period.
What makes content compelling? Content should entertain, enlighten,
intrigue, and engage your readers. Simply put, compelling content
inspires a reader to take action - your most desired action - whether it be
purchasing a book, leaving a review, signing up on your email list, or
something else. Use specific calls to action so your readers know what
you want them to do. With every piece of content you create, ask yourself
how you can add more value to your readers.
Includes setup of social media sites with graphics that match your website
for the following: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and
NEED HELP? HERE’S A SPECIAL OFFER*
Branded Social Media Setup
Exclusive Discount for Attendees
Nothing says “buy my book” like a promotional video book trailer, so I’ve
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Total value of entire package is well over $1400.
Cost of the entire package is $899. Package with premium SEO add-on is
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Built on the WordPress platform using the Genesis framework with a
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Professional Author Website Package
FREE Video-based training
Includes Lead-Capture System Setup
All sites include a personalized video walk-through that explains how to
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A landing page, web signup form, assistance in developing a client-
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